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Preface to the First Edition

There could be no better comment on the prevalent Muslim lethargy towards Islam than the fact that non-Muslim contributions to Islamic reli­gious literature in English are by far in excess of the Muslim. It is true that much of this literature draws a distorted picture of Islam, but even here the Muslim is more to blame than the non-Muslim, for it is his duty to place the right kind of material before a world whose thirst for knowledge is insatiable. But whatever may be said as to the superficiality of one part of this literature and the prejudicial tenor of another, it cannot be denied that Europe has made a most valuable contribution to research work in connection with the religion of Islam and the history of the Muslims. The Muslims are also turning their attention to the producing of religious literature in English, but the attempt is, as yet, a very weak one, directed more to appealing to the mar­ket than to serious efforts requiring hard work and critical acumen.

The Religion of Islam is the name of a book written by the Rev. F. A. Klein and published in 1906. It was through the courtesy of a friend that this book fell into my hands in the year 1928. He had read it with pain, he said, on account of the distorted picture of Islam that it contained, and he suggested that I should write a comprehensive work containing a true picture of Islam and dealing in detail with its teachings. More than twenty years before this, and just about the time when this book had been pub­lished in London, on the 13th of February 1907 to be exact, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, had charged me with the writing of an English book which should contain all that was necessary for a Muslim, or a non-Muslim, to know about the religion of Islam, and to give a true picture of the religion which was largely misrepresented. The multifarious duties which I had to perform as Presi­dent of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam were a great hindrance, but the call of duty overcame these difficulties, and I set to work im­me­dia­tely, after going through Klein’s book, and the work is now being pub­lished under the same name.

Had I been able to devote myself entirely to this task, it should not have taken more than three years. But seven years have passed, and still I am not satisfied that the book is as complete a picture as I had wished it to be. It has been my good fortune, from one point of view, to contribute to the literary activities of Islam and to be the head of a society which aims at the propagation of Islam, as the two works are so closely associated; but from another point of view it is a misfortune, since each of these works requires entire devotion to itself, to the exclusion of the other. I turned to the author’s work again and again, amidst the many duties which I was required to perform as the head of a newly estab­lished society, but always to be recalled to some other task which the urgency of the moment forced on my attention. An author’s singleness of purpose was not vouchsafed to me, and I have to confess that the work may, perhaps, suffer somewhat from this handicap.

There is yet another circumstance which may detract from the value of the book. I fell ill, rather seriously, in March 1935, and my medical ad­visers ordered complete rest for some time. Even after convalescence, I was advised to give up hard work, a direction which, to be candid, I have not been able to carry out, since the publication could not be delayed any longer. So I had to hurry on the work; and, more than that, I had to relin­quish two chapters which I originally intended to include.1 Besides, the concluding chapters have not been dealt with as exhaustively as I had wished. I only hope that these and other deficiencies will be removed if I am spared to bring out a second edition.

Islam, as I have pointed out in the Introduction to this book, is a religion which deals not only with the ways of devotion and the means which make man attain communion with God, but also with a vast variety of problems relating to the world around us and questions that pertain to the social and political life of man. In a treatise which aims at giving a true picture of Islam, it was necessary not only to discuss all the laws and regulations of the system but also to throw full light on the principles on which it is based, and even upon the sources from which its teachings, principles and laws are derived. I have, therefore, divided this book into three parts. The first part deals with the sources from which the teachings of Islam are drawn, and which can serve the purpose of guiding the Muslim world in its present and future needs; the second describes the creed of Islam or the fundamental doctrines of the religion; while the third treats of the laws and regulations of Islam which govern not only a Muslim’s domestic, so­cial and international relations but also his relations with God, which are the mainspring of the development of his faculties. An introduction has been added dealing with some questions relating to religion in general and Islam in particular.

A work of this nature would have carried little weight if it did not give full references to original authorities, and this had made the work labori­ous, for it contains over 2,500 references and quotations. The Holy Quran, being the original source on which all principles and laws of Islam are based, occupies the first place in this list, and next to it comes Bukhari, the most reliable book of Hadith. It is on these two authorities that the present work is chiefly based, but others, besides these, have been freely quoted and referred to where necessary.

In conclusion, I wish to express my indebtedness to the Honourable Chaudhri Sir Shahab-ud-Din, President of the Punjab Legislative Council, who is the friend, referred to above, and who, besides drawing my attention to the need of such a book, has helped me with valuable suggestions.

MUHAMMAD ALI

President,

Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, Lahore

Ahmadiyya Buildings,

Lahore

21st November, 1935.

 


Footnote

1. The Ethics of Islam and The Muslim State.